Dive into Mobile App Development with React Native and Expo

In 2023, anyone interested in developing mobile applications can easily access React Native. All you need is a conceptual understanding of HTML and a firm grasp of CSS, React, and JavaScript. You don't need any prior knowledge of Java, Swift, or Objective-C to create React Native applications for iOS and Android at the same time with these abilities.

So, how can this be achieved? You have two main options at your fingertips. The first is React Native CLI, which is just React Native in its purest form without any extra layers. It only includes the essential React Native APIs. Expo is the second choice; it is essentially an extension of React Native CLI, with a number of additional tools and features.

This article will introduce you to Expo, compare it to React Native CLI, and show you how to begin with it by setting up a basic project.

What is React Native and How Does it Work

A few years ago, with mobile traffic surpassing desktop traffic, mobile app developers faced several challenges. One of these challenges was the growing number of mobile platform users, which created a significant demand for mobile app development. React Native emerged as a solution to this issue. React Native, created by Meta Software Engineers in 2015, is an open-source framework for creating natively rendered desktop and mobile apps in JavaScript. TypeScript is now frequently used for increased type safety.

The primary goal of React Native is to create applications for both iOS and Android devices using a single codebase. It also adds support for platforms such as macOS, Windows, tvOS, and others. This eliminates the need for developers to write separate code for each platform, resulting in lower development costs and a faster turnaround time when creating cross-platform solutions.

So, how exactly does React Native work? While it has some similarities with React, the key difference is that the components used are native. It's important to note that knowing React doesn't automatically make you an expert in React Native because it requires a different approach.

React Native is made up of several key components:

1.  Yoga Layout: A multi-platform layout engine written in C++ that ensures standardized code across all platforms. This framework is essential for creating a completely native UI in React Native development.

2.  JavaScript Virtual Machine (JSVM) or GSVN: Composed of components responsible for parsing, interpreting, and other functions.

3.  Bridge: This tool facilitates queue communication by connecting the JavaScript queue to the native queue.

Because of its access to a variety of useful features, React Native is particularly beneficial for commercial products, making it suitable for implementing a wide range of ideas. This is particularly helpful for startups with limited development budgets. If you're thinking about creating an MVP for a startup, React Native is a great option.

What is Expo

Expo is a free and open-source platform that allows developers to create and deploy native iOS and Android applications using JavaScript and React. It is a collection of tools and services built around React Native that streamline the development, building, deployment, and iteration processes for iOS, Android, and web applications.

A key feature of Expo is the ability for developers to write code once and use it across multiple platforms, saving time and effort. Furthermore, it provides immediate access to native functionality such as the camera and accelerometer. What distinguishes it is the efficiency with which it brings to the development process. The live reloading and hot reloading features of Expo allow developers to see the results of their code changes immediately, improving the development experience.

Furthermore, Expo makes testing easier by allowing developers to share their projects with a simple URL. This not only speeds up the testing process but also makes collaboration easier. In essence, Expo is a game changer in the world of mobile app development, providing developers with a powerful and efficient solution.

Expo has evolved significantly over the years, and it now includes nearly all of the features required for developing enterprise-level mobile apps. However, if access to Native Android or iOS code is required, Expo offers the option to generate ios and android directories for your project and transition to a standard React Native code base with the “prebuild” command . This adaptability ensures that developers can take advantage of Expo's additional functionalities while still having the option to use native code when necessary.

Expo Vs. React Native CLI

The first thing you need to decide when starting a React Native project is between Expo and the React Native CLI. Every option has advantages, so consider your needs as well as those of the project when making your decision.

Expo CLI: Streamlining App Development

Expo places a high priority on improving the developer experience; it accomplishes this by providing a more efficient workflow. For developers who want to streamline the complexity of developing React Native apps, the Expo CLI is a great option because it lets them concentrate on JavaScript without having to worry about creating platform-specific code. By offering a managed app development workflow, this method greatly reduces the complexity involved in creating React Native apps.

Expo stands out for being particularly user-friendly; it's free, doesn't require registration, and makes it easier to integrate native device features like camera access. One of the benefits is that code changes can be made without depending on app stores thanks to Expo's service, which offers smooth updates. You still have authority over what you publish to Expo, even though there might be a waitlist for APK builds. Expo's ongoing maintenance program guarantees frequent updates, which makes the upgrade process simple.

Expo CLI offers significant convenience if your project is compatible with the Expo ecosystem and entails developing a simple app, particularly for beginners or people working on personal projects.

React Native CLI: Full Control, Advanced Development

On the other hand, there's the React Native CLI, which offers a basic development environment managed by the React Native team or members of the community. This gives you complete control over your app, allowing for advanced configurations and manual workarounds. If you're a skilled developer working on a complex app with specific needs, React Native CLI may be the best option.

The disadvantage of this approach is that it requires a more complex setup process, especially when integrating native device features. You'll be responsible for installing Android Studio and Xcode, configuring and managing your app, and dealing with the complexities of third-party packages. When working with React Native CLI, you must frequently link dependencies and troubleshoot to keep everything running smoothly, which can be time-consuming.

Which Option is Best For You

Expo CLI offers simplicity, convenience, and comprehensive support for common app scenarios. With wrappers for frequently used native device features, the development process becomes effortless. For beginners or those working on small to moderately sized projects, Expo proves to be an excellent choice, providing ease of use and continuous support. While it's crucial to be mindful of its limitations, the flexibility offered by Expo allows for a seamless transition if your project grows and requires more advanced features. In essence, Expo ensures adaptability throughout your development journey.

Setting Up the Development Environment for An Expo Project

Before jumping into app development, it's essential to configure your development environment for React Native Expo. To get started, you'll need a few crucial components installed on your system. The first is Node.js, a JavaScript runtime that enables you to execute JavaScript on your machines. Following that, you'll require npm, a package manager for Node.js, which facilitates the installation of various libraries and tools for your project.

To install both Node.js and npm, visit the official Node.js website, download the recommended version for your operating system, and follow the provided installation instructions. Once installed, you can verify the successful installation by typing 'node -v' and 'npm -v' in our terminal or command prompt.

Finally, to interact with Expo tools seamlessly, you need to install the Expo CLI, a command-line app serving as the primary interface between developers and Expo. You can install it globally on your system using npm. In the terminal, type 'npm install -g expo-cli,' and just like that, your development environment is set up and ready for action."

Creating Your First React Native Expo App

Now that everything is set up, you can start making apps with React Native Expo. The first thing to do is use the Expo command line interface (CLI) to start a new project using the command 'expo init'. This command will ask you to select a template, we will use a blank template for simplicity's sake. After you choose a template, give your project a name, and a folder will be created to hold all of your files.

Use the 'cd' command followed by the name of your project to navigate to this directory. Here, the file of primary importance is 'App.js.' Some pre-written code is visible when you open this file in your text editor. Let's replace this code with a basic setup:

// App.js
import React from 'react';
import { Text, View, StyleSheet } from 'react-native';

export default function App() {
  return (
<View style={styles.container}>
  <Text style={styles.text}>Hello Expo World!</Text>
const styles = StyleSheet.create({
  container: {
flex: 1,
justifyContent: 'center',
alignItems: 'center',
  text: {
fontSize: 20,
fontWeight: 'bold',

In this code:

  • We import necessary components from react-native, including Text and View.
  • The App component is a simple functional component that returns a JSX structure.
  • Inside the View component, we have a Text component displaying the text "Hello Expo World!"
  • The StyleSheet.create method is used to define styles for the components. Here, we set up a basic styling for the container and the text.

This will display a simple screen with the text "Hello Expo World!" in the center. You can customize and expand upon this code as you continue building your React Native Expo app. When you're ready to launch your app, type "expo start" into the terminal. A development server will be launched and a QR code will be displayed. Open it directly from an iOS simulator or Android emulator, or scan it with your device's Expo app. This first app is as basic as it gets; its sole purpose is to greet you with the timeless 'Hello World' message.

Transform Your Business and Achieve Success with Solwey Consulting

React Native Expo is a powerful mobile app development tool. Its simplified workflow, ease of use, and robust support for most situations make it a great choice for beginners and advanced users. Expo's flexibility lets you add more features as your project grows, despite its limitations. Expo's updates and community support make it a valuable tool for React Native developers. Whether you prioritize simplicity or scalability, Expo provides a solid foundation for bringing your mobile app ideas to life.

At Solwey Consulting, we specialize in custom software development services, offering top-notch solutions to help businesses like yours achieve their growth objectives. With a deep understanding of technology, our team of experts excels in identifying and using the most effective tools for your needs, making us one of the top custom software development companies in Austin, TX.

Whether you need ecommerce development services or custom software consulting, our custom-tailored software solutions are designed to address your unique requirements. We are dedicated to providing you with the guidance and support you need to succeed in today's competitive marketplace.

If you have any questions about our services or are interested in learning more about how we can assist your business, we invite you to reach out to us. At Solwey Consulting, we are committed to helping you thrive in the digital landscape.

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Let’s get started

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